By Arré Bench Mar. 31, 2020
What’s up with the new PM-CARES fund created for those who wish to contribute to India’s fight against Covid-19? And how different is it from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund?
In order to mobilise efforts in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Modi announced the formation of a Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief In Emergency Situation Fund (PM-CARES), for those willing to donate to India’s war against COVID-19.
People from all walks of life expressed their desire to donate to India’s war against COVID-19.
Respecting that spirit, the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund has been constituted. This will go a long way in creating a healthier India.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 28, 2020
Since the March 28 announcement, contributions continue to pour in. Everyday Indians chipping in with whatever they can, celebrities like Akshay Kumar, Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Katrina Kaif and Kartik Aryan making hefty donations.
This is that time when all that matters is the lives of our people. And we need to do anything and everything it takes. I pledge to contribute Rs 25 crores from my savings to @narendramodi ji’s PM-CARES Fund. Let’s save lives, Jaan hai toh jahaan hai. 🙏🏻 https://t.co/dKbxiLXFLS
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) March 28, 2020
Organisations like the IAS Association and Sports Authority of India as well as corporates such as L&T and Reliance Industries have made announcements relating to their contributions to the fund.
Reliance Industries announces Rs 500 crore contribution to #PMCARES Fund In addition to its multi-pronged on-the-ground fight against Covid-19 #RIL #CoronaHaaregaIndiaJeetega pic.twitter.com/06Rsm4XLaX
— Reliance Foundation (@ril_foundation) March 30, 2020
Yes, there’s no debating that India needs more funds to fight the pandemic and any contribution by its citizens will go a long way in this war against Covid-19. However, there is genuine confusion and many have questioned the rationale for the creation of a separate fund when the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) already exists to deal with disasters and calamities.
Serious question -are PM Cares and Prime Minister’s relief fund different.. and what’s the difference?
From what I know, donations to both will be used for the ongoing crisis as well as possible future issues facing the country.
If anyone has any further info, please elaborate
— Test, Test, TEST (@nikhilchinapa) March 29, 2020
Salman Soz of the Congress pointed out that the PMNRF has an unspent balance of ₹3800 crore, as income has exceeded expenditure over the past few years. Why was PM-CARES created then?
The PM's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) has an unspent balance of Rs. 3800 crore (as of 16 Dec 2019). Why couldn't #COVID19 donations go to PMNRF? Why was PM CARE created? Why are PM & 3 ministers members of this trust without any opposition or civil society leaders? @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/wLbqpt8IZ8
— Salman Anees Soz (@SalmanSoz) March 30, 2020
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had a similar view. He asked PM Modi to explain the need for another fund. “Why not simply rename PMNRF [Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund] as PM-CARES, given the PM’s penchant for catchy acronyms, instead of creating a separate Public Charitable Trust whose rules & expenditure are totally opaque.” Tharoor tweeted.
Historian Ramachandra Guha critiqued the self-aggrandising name – PM-CARES – asking whether a national tragedy should be used to enhance a cult of personality.
This is a very important thread. Why a new fund when a Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund already exists? And why the self-aggrandizing name, PM-CARES? Must a colossal national tragedy also be (mis)used to enhance the cult of personality? https://t.co/97NspbaVwh
— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) March 29, 2020
According to CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury, the fund should have been called “India-CARES”. “We all care about our fellow-citizens and their well-being and must help in every way,” he tweeted.
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) March 29, 2020
Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai asked the government for greater transparency in relation to the need for a separate fund and why only a 50 per cent tax rebate was given for PM-CARES as opposed to a 100 per cent tax rebate when donating to the PMNRF.
Cong raises 2 Qs a)why PM Cares Fund when there is existing PM relief fund with Rs 3800 CR corpus b)why tax rebate of 50 % when PM relief gives 100 %.Hopefully both Qs will be answered soon by govt:this is time for ALL to put in funds above politics in fight against COVID.
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) March 30, 2020
The questions continue to be raised. One can only hope that the government, already facing backlash over the handling of migrants, comes clean on transparency issues and other concerns. Politics needs to take backseat as the need of the hour is to unite in this fight against COVID-19.